All of the participants are among the leading 35 in the world rankings, including 11 of the 12 members of the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Watney captured one of the four PGA Tour playoff events this year and seized the lead Thursday with birdies on five of the final 10 holes.
"Winning this event, it would be an honor," Watney said. "The list of champions is pretty strong. I think everybody comes here wanting to win even though it's during the holiday season.
"I'm trying to use it to prepare for next season and winning never gets old."
Woods has won the event five times and when he captured it last year it was his first victory in any tournament in more than 2 years.